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WILD DAFFODILS : : Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Also known as Lent Lily or Mary's Star.

Of course, if you want to impress, you refer to all daffodils by their Latin name narcissus. 

All the plants discussed on this website are native to Scotland. So what are daffodils doing here? Well daffodils are native to England and Wales. They were introduced to Scotland a long time ago and not being considered invasive here, are generally accepted today as "native" plants too. 

But we need to be clear which daffodils fit this description. Almost every single daffodil that you see even in our "natural" areas such as roadside verges or along paths and waterways are plants that have escaped from gardens and parks and are most like hybrid species. Finding what we can consider a "native" species, in other words wild daffodils somewhat a little harder. 

We are told by the Scottish Wildlife Trust that wild daffodils are almost identical to culrivated species, but are smaller. However this does not mean that they are as small as the miniature varieties! The green leaves and stem are a paler silvery/grey green colour. The perianth (or what we might see as six yellow petals) is darker in colour than the inner trumpet which measures 25-30mm long. The height of the flowering stem is between 20-35cm, the height of the leaves 12-35cm and only 5-12mm wide.

So we are looking for average height flowers with a bright centre surrounded by paler petals. (The similarity is so confusing that some websites show both completely yellow flowers and flowers with bright central petals surrounded by paler ones as the same species).

Its Latin name comes from the myth of the river god Cephissus and the story of his son Narcissus who through his beauty had many admirers, including the nymph Echo. (The NRS link provides more detail). 

The alternative names, applied to daffodils rather generally, of Lent Lily or Mary's Star indicate a strong Christian association. It is linked to the Virgin Mary and several of the saints and has been used symbolically in artto represent the resurrection, self-sacrifice and eternal life.

Casually picking daffodils along road verges or other open spaces is a popular past time as they are considered so common. Spare a thought though for whether what you see is actually that common or our native species. 

Daffodils are a lovely sight in a vase at home. But be aware that they are poisonous. It is advisable to wash your hands when handling cut flowers and keeping them away from pets. On the plus side, they are a deterrent to many animals such as deer and rabbits that may nibble your garden flowers so interspersing them is useful. Of course, many insects such as bees and butterflies are undeterred and really love them. 

These daffodils were planted, but appear to be of the wild species.

This display has both wild and other propagated species.

Finding wild species of flowers is a great pleasure that somehow satisfies something different to propagated hybrid flowers. It encoruages a sense of discovery and of pride in our natural heritage. But of course our parks and gardens dazzle with a rich variety of introduced and hybrid species. See GARDENS OF WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE index.asp?pageid=719389 While some may feel it improper to hybridise a native plant, there are advantages and the daffodil is a good example. A Scot, William Backhouse, from Fife, was a pioneering gardener who explored the potential of daffodils and to whom we can be thankful for the wide range we have today.

NARCISSUS Narcissus poeticus

As acknowledged above, daffodils are not strictly native to Scotland. baut have become considered naturalised. This level of acceptance oif naturalisation only applies to the "wild daffodil" described above, but there is another one that comes close to that. 

This is Narcissus poeticus .

Narcissus poeticus, the poet's daffodil, poet's narcissus, nargis, pheasant's eye, findern flower or pinkster lily, was one of the first daffodils to be cultivated, and is frequently identified as the narcissus of ancient times (although Narcissus tazetta and Narcissus jonquilla have also been considered as possibilities). It is also often associated with the Greek legend of Narcissus

It is obviously of the same family as our other daffodils, but differs greatly in its smaller central yellow flower surrounded by white brachia.

Although not as showy as its larger fleshier yellow and white cousins, it has the charming tendency to flower just as all others have died back. 

It appears across West Dunbartonshire growing wild in such places as Auchnacraig Woodland Park near Faifley. index.asp?pageid=719197

Narcissus poeticus found growing in Auchnacraig Woodland Park. 

GARDENINE : https://gardenine.com/narcissus-vs-daffodil/

NATIONAL RECORDS OF SCOTLAND (NRS) : https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/archivists-garden/index-by-plant-name/daffodil-wild-lent-lily

SCOTTISH WILDLIFE TRUST : https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/2016/04/did-you-know-that-there-are-such-things-as-wild-daffodils/#:~:text=Wild%20daffodils%20have%20been%20introduced%20into%20Scotland%20but,and%20fauna%2C%20they%20are%20ok%20in%20my%20book%21

SUNDAY POST on William Backhouse : https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/the-daffs-that-changed-the-world-gardening-pioneer-celebrated/

WIKIPEDIA on mythology : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(mythology)

and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_poeticus

WOODLAND TRUSTS : https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2021/02/where-to-see-wild-daffodils/

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